“In its simplest terms, a worldview is a set of beliefs about the most important issues in life. The philosophical systems of thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle were worldviews. Every mature rational human being…has his or her own worldview just as surely as Plato did.” – Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict
One’s worldview contains thoughts about God (a spiritual element), along with concepts about ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and humankind in general. Many deny that they are completely non-spiritual, or non-theists, but that is still a thought about spirituality, and therefore represents a ‘worldview’.
Understanding the concept of worldviews and applying that concept to the art of conversation can be very beneficial to the dialogue, whatever the subject under consideration. With certain topics (God, for instance), discussing in terms of ‘wordviews’ can take the conversation out of the personal opinion arena and place it on a completely non-personal playing field. In fact, two people with opposite worldviews can assume the other’s worldview, much like a debater being assigned a position he or she does not actually agree with.
Making a claim that all men know of the existence of God, with reference to a passage of scripture that says exactly that, is not a personal accusation that the atheist is a liar, but a statement about the knowledge of God from a Christian worldview. It’s like saying, ‘According to Richard Dawkins, religious people are stupid idiots.’ That is not necessarily a personal accusation. A Christian, who obviously wouldn’t believe that, could even make the statement!
Unfortunately, many atheists/non-theists, if not most of them, accuse Christians of proselytizing for just talking about God. Some Christians might bring up the topic of God in order to proselytize, or to try and convert someone, but we are also capable of objective conversation about God – of expressing the ‘Christian’ worldview without trying to convert anyone. Some of us even believe that we can’t actually convert anyone, but we can only present the God ‘option’ and the gospel message of the Bible and leave the rest in God’s capable hands.
So why are so many atheists convinced that we are intentionally proselytizing when we talk about God?